Story by Diana Whittle
Photo by Billy Hardiman

fees college prepFor middle-school students who
like to learn from hands-on
projects, a new program in
the Tempe district may
provide a custom-made fit.
Fees College Preparatory Academy
announced its Science, Technology,
Engineering and Mathematics
program, now commonly referred to as
STEM, for grades 6 to 8 starting this
coming fall.
The program requires an
application, which will be accepted
until March 7. Families will be notified
by April 4 of enrollment status in the
Deborah Pardee, an eighth grade
science teacher at Fees, hopes the
curriculum will light a fire under the
students’ enthusiasm for matters
“Students who are interested in
science and technology will be most
successful in this program, such as a
student who has a natural curiosity
about the world and shows a strong
natural aptitude toward STEM-related
fields,” said Pardee.
She’s not alone in expressing
enthusiasm for the program.
“STEM is the wave of the future
and prepares students for college
degrees and jobs that don’t yet exist,”
said Fees Principal Kacy S. Tomason.
“When I became principal a year
ago, our data showed a weakness in
the area of mathematics, and that the
majority of students didn’t see the need
for math later in their lives. STEM is a
logical choice since it not only provides
a vehicle for students to apply their
mathematical skills, but it also shows
them how these skills transfer to real
Enrollment in the program is
targeted toward incoming fifth graders
and students currently enrolled in sixth
and seventh grades. Students outside
the district also may apply to attend.
The STEM program at Fees will
have multiple components, explained
“The first component is the
elective class, which is based on both
state and national standards. We will
be implementing the Paxton Patterson
Action Labs, which include technologybased
instruction and hands-on
learning followed by application of the
learned skills.
The second component will be the
integration of STEM-focused materials
into other content areas. There will
be designated STEM teachers at
each grade level who will work to
incorporate STEM concepts into their
daily instruction.
The final stage of STEM
integration will take place through
college and career exploration.
Throughout the year, students in the
STEM class will be exploring college
and career paths that tie directly to
STEM-focused skills.’’
Prospective STEM student Taylor
Delgado is a seventh grader at Fees
who recently attended an open house
for families and says science is her
favorite subject.
“I like that we get to do hands-on
labs. We did a lab on minerals and we
got to touch them and see what they
looked like with a magnified glass, and
then we were able to identify them,”
said Taylor.
“I am interested in the STEM
program because as I go into the
eighth grade I want to do something
new. I hope that the STEM program
will provide me with new learning that
I will be able to use as an adult and
throughout my life.”
Parent Stephenie A. Norrish,
whose children already attend Fees,
says the program is a great option for
her family.
“I have encouraged my children,
a sixth grade boy and a seventh
grade girl, to participate in the STEM
program at Fees because of the
opportunities it will provide to advance
their learning,” said Norrish.
“STEM goes beyond the basics of
education and teaches critical thinking,
problem solving, communication,
collaboration and creativity in the
pursuit of innovation.”
More information about the
program and an application can be
found on-line at www.tempeschools.